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Bryan Schultz,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: University of Tennessee
GK-12: Enriching Earth Science in Rural Tennessee Middle Schools Through Research-Based Activities on Climate and Environmental History
URL: http://web.utk.edu/~gk12/index.html

Thesis Title: How Great was the Great Oxidation Event?: Exploring Ocean Redox in the Paleoproterozoic

College/University: University of Tennessee

Research Advisor: Linda Kah

Degree Sought
Ph.D. in Geology

University Department and/or Lab
Department of Earth and Planetary Science

Research Focus
My research involves the use of C, S, and Mo isotopes in conjunction with rare earth elements to better understand the extent and rate of biospheric oxygenation during and following the Great Oxidation Event.

Description of Research
The Great Oxidation Event (GOE) marks a major transition from reducing to oxidizing conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere. This transition to a more oxygen-rich planet is coincident with the first appearance of multi-cellular eukaryotic life forms at ~2.2 billion years BP. My project will employ sulfur and carbon-isotopic modeling in combination with high resolution geochemical data, to better understand the extent and rate of oxygenation in the evolving Earth's biosphere prior to and in the aftermath of the GOE. For this project, I will focus on strata from the ~2.52 billion year old (Ga) Transvaal Supergroup, South Africa and the ~1.8 Ga Pethei Group, NWT, Canada.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
To help 8th grade students at Northview Middle School, in Kodak, Tennessee, experience the excitement of earth science research, I developed an inquiry-based project in which students evaluated and catalogued the campus geology and pedology. After studying physical, chemical, and biological weathering processes, the students worked together to excavate multiple soil pits for characterization of soil morphology, and collected both soil and bedrock samples for future thin-section, pollen, and scanning-electron microscope (SEM) analyses.

The results of these analyses will be interpreted by the students. They also gained hands-on experience with geospatial and mathematic skills from recording compass, distance, and orientation measurements while establishing a base map for our research site. Through these collective efforts, my Teacher-Partner Crystal Yates and I hope to provide Northview students with a better understanding of both present and past environmental and climate conditions at their school and in the surrounding east Tennessee area.

Profile date: September 2007
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